Past polling has suggested that, when properly explained, the "Fair Tax" proposal, which would end the federal government's fixation on punishing those who work hard, is extremely popular. But tell that to the man who has championed it in recent years, U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Ga.
Linder, who began his stint in Congress more than a decade ago, is a dentist by training, a successful businessman in his past career, and as bright a public servant as one would ever hope to meet. But in Washington, like everywhere else, there are certain "circles of power," certain styles which are expected, and a huge aversion to rocking boats unless such rocking is really a gentle push, or the public wants the boat to be taken to the depths of the deep blue sea.
The problem is that John Linder is a true boat-rocker, and while members of Congress will pay lip service to such men or women of conviction, they also lack a comfort level with them. And admittedly, Linder's somewhat aloof style has made his popularity among some members somewhat problematic. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., an immensely likeable and level-headed leader of his party, has reportedly done everything but hire magician David Copperfield in an attempt to make Linder disappear from a rightful seniority driven stint as House Rules chairman.
One wonders if Hastert has done a personality check on other powerful House members, such House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., known far and wide as one of Washington's most arrogant and unlovable members. Linder, for all of his dandified ways, is a saint compared to Thomas, and a heck of a lot smarter.
Interestingly, it would be Thomas' committee that would have to approve and forward to the House floor Linder's novel and popular taxation proposal.
But being smart and devoted to a cause rarely gets rewarded in the nation's capital. For years, Linder, whose proposal would shift taxation away from punishing production and toward taxing consumption, has reportedly tried in vain to get the Bush White House and top congressional leaders to seriously consider this logical proposal. But Linder's efforts have yet to prove fruitful.